Netanyahu: Hamas army will soon cease to exist


Lerato Khumalo

Israel’s head of government sees the major ground offensive in the Gaza Strip nearing completion. But that does not necessarily mean an end to the war.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the main phase of the war against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip is coming to an end. “We are moving towards the end of the phase of destroying the Hamas terror army,” he said in Jerusalem at a reception for cadets of the National Defense Academy. “We will continue to fight its remnants.”

Netanyahu had previously visited the Gaza Division, which is currently deployed in the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. He said he had seen “very considerable progress” there. The offensive in Rafah on the border with Egypt is aimed at destroying the last major Hamas fighting units. However, the Islamist militia remains militarily active in the form of smaller troops.

The words of the Israeli Prime Minister indicate that the Israeli army’s major ground offensive in the Gaza Strip could soon end. This offensive began three weeks after the unprecedented massacre committed by Hamas and other extremist groups in southern Israel on October 7. The terrorist attack, which left 1,200 Israelis dead, triggered the Gaza War, which Israel initially initiated with massive air strikes.

The end of the ground offensive would not necessarily mean an end to Israel’s military involvement in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu and senior military officials have often pointed out that Israeli troops would remain at strategic locations in the sealed-off coastal area even after the phase of intensive fighting. This would primarily include the so-called Philadelphia Corridor, a 14-kilometer-long, narrow strip that runs along the border with Egypt near Rafah on the Gaza side.